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The history of Goddards and the Terry family

Black and white image of a family stood side by side in height order
From the tallest to the smallest | © Terry family archives

Explore the history of Goddards and its connection to Terry’s chocolate. Uncover the stories of the family who lived here and those who played a part in shaping the company from humble chemist shop to famous chocolatier.

Aspiring to a home

When Noel Terry started work at his family’s chocolate company in 1911, it had already been in business for over a century. By 1923 Noel was one of the managing directors at Terry’s and was looking to create a comfortable family home close to the chocolate works.

Noel had met his wife Kathleen in 1910 – when he was 20 and she 17 – and they married in 1915.

Unlike some people I don't aspire to fame, riches, rank and power. No, I aspire beyond that. I aspire to a home

A quote by Noel Terry

A growing family

Kathleen was brought up in a mock-Tudor mansion called Aldersyde that you can still find on nearby Tadcaster Road, while Noel was brought up a little down the road at a house called Trentholme. Once married, they had been living in a fine semi-detached Arts and Crafts-style home and had started to bring up their family there. Wanting more space and a detached house, Noel Terry commissioned architect Walter Brierley to build another Arts and Crafts-style home, despite having a fine collection of Georgian furniture that didn't really fit.

The perfect location

Goddards was built in Dringhouses, a suburb of the city of York, on a plot of land that happened to fall between their childhood homes. Today, as you walk through the gatehouse entrance and down the quiet drive, the house slowly reveals itself. Around the side of the house, you’ll see the gently sloping garden, which was designed by George Dillistone.

There are beautiful views across to the historic racecourse and to the clock tower of the old Terry’s chocolate factory in the distance, forever linking the estate to its heritage.

The family who made Goddards their home 



Noel changed the design of Goddards to suit his preferences with fewer windows and more wall space to hang his paintings. He had an impressive collection of clocks and would go round the house with a stopwatch in an attempt to set them to exactly the same time. He was known to get very frustrated when his efforts failed.  

The original Terry family furniture is on display at Fairfax House in York. It was donated to the York Civic Trust after Noel’s death in 1980.

A black and white family portrait in a garden, including a small dog
Capturing the moment with some of the family | © Terry family

The art of design

The house is a fine example of Brierley's great architectural design. His decorative features are evident throughout – everywhere from the brickwork to the window latches. The house is a fusion of different styles including Jacobean, Queen Anne, vernacular and neo-Georgian but it’s predominantly inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement.

By chance, Goddards was the last house he ever created – he died in 1926, a year before the house was completed.

Buy local

A feature of the Arts and Crafts movement was to use local materials. The handmade 2-inch red kiln bricks were from nearby Barton upon Humber and they are arranged in Arts and Crafts-style geometric patterns.

Attention to detail

The craftsmanship and attention to detail – a key feature of the movement – is even shown in the guttering and downpipes. You can see the date the house was completed, Noel and Kathleen Terry’s initials and even a roaring lion.

Brierley also loved to use triple chimney stacks on his buildings to give an extra level of detail to the architecture. The two gable ends defined the family’s living quarters and the wing that’s set back to the right-hand side housed the staff quarters and nurseries.

Making memories

Whether you're pausing on the terrace or playing a game together in the garden, it isn't too hard to imagine a quieter pace of life and growing up at Goddards.

The spaces around the house were designed so the family could be together. George Dillistone worked closely with Brierley, and constant letters back and forth between them ensured harmony between the architecture of the house and the design of the garden.

Read more about the history of the garden with the Yorkshire Gardens Trust.

A home for the National Trust

The National Trust bought Goddards in 1984 to use as the Yorkshire office for the charity. You can visit the garden on selected days from March to October.

What you see today at Goddards isn't a major change from when it was first realised in 1927, a testament to its craftsmanship. Where planting schemes have been lost over the years we're working hard to replant and, in time, hope to return to the original plans as closely as possible.

Old cover showing a large factory with tall tower and smaller buildings and roads
As the business grew, so did the factory and workforce | © Terrys of York

The Terry family business – over 250 years of chocolate

From chemists to chocolatiers, Terry's of York played a crucial role in the city’s heritage. It grew to become a family business in more ways than one, with many employees working with their own family members in the factory, or meeting their spouses at work.

The early years

The business began in 1767 as a small shop close to Bootham Bar in York’s city centre. At that time the owners were William Bayldon and Robert Berry.

Joseph Terry, the chemist

Joseph moved to York in 1813 and served as an apprentice apothecary in Stonegate. He later set up his own chemist shop in Walmgate. In 1823 he married Harriet Atkinson, a relative of Robert Berry. He joined the Berry family business which by that time was in St Helen's Square.

Joseph Terry (the younger), the confectioner

In 1854, Joseph Terry (junior) married Frances Goddard and had three sons, Joseph, Samuel and Thomas (who became Noel's father).

By 1867, the Terry business had 400 items on its price list but only 13 were chocolate – the rest were boiled sweets and confectionary. By now, the business was based by the river at Clementhorpe. In 1890 the business had around 300 employees.

Thomas Terry, the businessman

Thomas, Joseph's son by his first marriage, promoted the business internationally. Sadly, he died in a road traffic accident, leaving Noel without a father.

Noel and Sir Francis Terry, the chocolatiers

Noel and his step-uncle Francis became joint managing directors in 1923. They began to transition the business to its Bishopthorpe Road site the following year. Designed by J.E. Wade and featuring a 135ft-high clock, the new factory was finished in 1926.

Noel and Francis led the business through its heyday in the 1920s and 30s, creating the famous Terry's Chocolate Orange and All Gold. Under their leadership, production and revenue almost doubled and by 1937 the company had 2500 employees.

A royal visit

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the Bishopthorpe factory on 19 October 1937. The Royals were shown around the factory, visiting everywhere from the testing laboratories to the production lines. Banners, ribbons and a marching band marked the occasion and hundreds of workers cheered from the sidelines.

The end of an era

In 1963 hotel group Forte – now a multi-billion pound company – took over Terry’s, and Noel was offered a directorship on Forte’s board.

Terry's changed hands again in 1978, to Colgate Palmolive, and then in 1982 to United Biscuits.

Kraft bought the company in 1993 for £220 million. Production moved to Eastern Europe in the early 2000s and the York factory closed in 2005 with the loss of 317 jobs.

When Peter heard that Kraft were closing the York factory, he called it ’the saddest day’ of his life and remarked, ‘So Terry’s of York will be no more…’

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